Monday, September 24, 2012

Week 12: September?

Weird heading, huh? Well there is actually a little bit of a story behind it. We had Zone Conference(a whole bunch of us missionaries come together and do all sorts of fun stuff) this past week, and somebody mentioned Christmas and gifts. That got the Christmas ball rolling. Saturday night we got Raspberry Hugs(the white chocolate Kisses). They are really good, and I recommend them to everyone if you can manage to find them. This is the first time I had heard of them. Sunday, the weather was very similar to Christmas-time back home, kind of cooler and a little overcast with drizzle. I don't know. It reminded me of Christmas. The Hugs also reminded me of Christmas because we always had special varieties of Kisses at Christmas-time. I was just in a very Christmas-y mood, and reading Christmas hymns during sacrament didn't help. I read "I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day" and realized I really like that hymn! "God is not dead nor doth he sleep! The wrong shall fail, the right prevail, with peace on Earth good will to men!" I added the exclamation points, but it is so true! It felt like Christmas...That was the big fun thing this week. Christmas feelings. Yes, it made me a little sad to realize I won't be with my family this Christmas. I didn't realize how bad it can potentially be, but I'll make the best of it!
One last note on Christmas: Some of you may be wondering what the perfect gift is to get your missionary in Africa or Cambodia, or maybe even stateside, but probably not yet since it is still September. This might not be true for all missionaries, but I think the best gift you can give a missionary is personal ....?attributes?. In letter or some other form, let the missionary know what your favorite scripture or favorite scripture story is and let them know how it gained its spot as 'favorite'. This is better than candy or snacks(especially where I am). Your stories and experiences beat out all the worldly things in the world as far as I am concerned.
It's starting to cool down up here, and I can tell I am going to need a jacket soon. I didn't come with one because I was in Socal where jackets are few and far in between during summer when I came out. It's not too bad yet, but it will be soon enough. Luckily suit coat season will start soon. Up here we don't where our suit jackets during summer, but about the time General Conference happens everybody pulls there suitcoats out.
Have a great week! Enjoy life for it is meant to be enjoyed!
Elder Mann

Monday, September 17, 2012

Week 11

8! Not 1, not 2, not 3, not even 4! 8! Count them! 8 flat tires in one week! Don't ask me how we managed that, but we did! First we patched up 3 holes. Then we replaced 1 tube. Then we patched a tube again. Then we replaced 3 tubes! My tires should never go flat again. haha I got the fancy tubes that are extra thick and come with slime in them. Plus, they've kind of got a warranty in that, if they do ever go flat, I can call a number and they will replace the tube.
That was the least fun part of the week, but it was funny by the end because it happened so much. On the opposite side of the spectrum, I got to try my hand at bucking hay! A member called us up and asked for our help. We didn't feel the need to change because it was getting close to dark, so we were going to be in after doing this service. Bucking hay in a white shirt and tie. I never thought I would buck hay to begin with, let alone in a white shirt and tie.
A new member in one of the bishoprics got up and spoke yesterday about how old he is getting. He's only 38. That made me start thinking about how old I am getting. I didn't realize it, but I am there. I'm old! Next year I'll be 20...That's hard to imagine. I feel like I could still fit in in a freshman geometry class other than that I would already know everything. Maybe that is what makes you old, knowledge. If I stopped learning I'd stop aging. That must be the answer, right? haha
Being a missionary, we aren't supposed to talk politics, but being in the world, you can't help but know what is going on. I'm going to go on this one semi-political tangent this once, and then you won't hear anything else from me. I'm not doing to be political. I'm doing this because of the inner patriot in me. I have heard this and that about what is going on in Africa and it is quite the depressing situation. Some of us missionaries were getting pizza for lunch at a place called Garbanzo's. They have a tv in there, and that is where I first heard/saw anything about the unrest. CNN was on and they were showing pictures of what was happening in Libya. One of the images showed an American flag on the ground. As old as I am, I've grown up knowing that the flag doesn't belong on the ground. My scoutmaster would share a story from scout camp about one scout, Ric. There was a day they were relaxing in camp when the flagpole they had set up fell over. From the way he tells it, Ric ran over that second and grabbed it and picked it up. I think it might be embelishment, but he says that Ric was barefoot when it happened and he had to run across 50' of wooded forest to get to the flag. Seeing the flag on the ground got me riled up in my mind, but I understood that there wasn't anything I could do to ease the situation. What did I do? I prayed to my Heavenly Father. When it feels like there is nothing else for us to do, that is the one thing that will never cease to be, our ability to pray. We can pray whenever for whatever. He, our heavenly Father, will listen.
One last note on flags and I'll close up shop for the day. Back before heading out on my mission, I had the chance to go to Joshua Tree with a few of my friends. I was blessed with the opportunity to share in the experience of a flag's retirement while there. It was a very special evening. If any of those friends get the chance to read this, I want to thank them for being with me out there. Care for those things you hold dear. Respect and love them. Treat them well.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Week 10: Shout Outs!

Howdy all! I've got a few shout outs to make this week!
My first shout out goes to my friend, the dictionary! For the first time in 10+ years, I got to use a dictionary as my 'spell check'! My companion had to write an essay, and he wanted me to check his spelling. There were some words I wasn't sure about, so I got a dictionary and checked it there! It felt good pulling out that dusty old book.
My second shout out goes to Twix! I had gone to a lunch with the district, but it wasn't a very big lunch. I was debating one whether or not I needed a whole PB sandwich or just a fun size Twix. I chewed it over with a Twix.
My third shout out goes to my home town Mentone and its neighboring city Redlands! The Boise Temple has been under construction for the past year and is preparing to reopen in November. Before it reopens there will be an open house. They have made a fancy video in preparation for the open house, and I would like to share it with all of you.
That there is a link to the video. It's short. Only 01:14 I think. You Socal people might recognize something near the 00:05 mark. What's that? The Redlands temple? That's right! Redlands temple made it into the video! Hoorah!
[Also, there has been a lot of talk about a cultural celebration to go along with the open house. Was there one when the Redlands temple was opened? I forget because I was only 10. All I really remember is tasty cookies and a nice walk inside.]
My last shout out goes to collars! That's right! Collars! I'm wearing a collared shirt 95% of the time when I'm in public. This has 'messed up' my body. I went to a service project that lasted for 4 hours! What happened? The bottom half of my neck(which is normally covered with a collar) got burned! The top half was fine, but the lower half got burned because it isn't used to being exposed anymore! That's the life of a missionary for you right there.
The work of the Lord continues! "No unhallowed hand can stop the work from progressing"! We've got a baptism lined up for Saturday for a mother and her two daughters. We've been meeting new people and are striving as hard as we can to help them in all ways possible. There is also going to be a day for everybody to invite their friends to church, so we are really encouraging members to invite their friends. It should be a great opportunity.
The final word of the day: Journals. Write a journal, and write in it consistantly. For the first time, I'm able to look back and read what I wrote from a year ago. A few days back(a year ago) my journal entry started out "Alex had a really great day!" There are just all sorts of great memories that are in there. The problem is, I didn't write in it regularly. I even noted at it. I stopped writing in it for two months. The first thing I wrote after that hiatus? Write in it regularly! What happened? I didn't. Now I've got giant gaps...Luckily I've been a lot better. I've written everyday since being on my mission.
Elder Mann

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

2 Months Out and Still Going Strong

Dear whoever reads this,
Hello! Welcome to the exciting new installment of Elder Mann's Idaho Adventures! This last weekend was the end of a transfer. I could have gotten moved! I didn't. I get to stay in Meridian for at least another 6 weeks unless something comes up(1% probability of a random change caused by factors beyond my control). In this 6 weeks, I've taught a lot of different people a lot of different things, but I've learned as much as I've taught. I did finally make it through a full bag of cereal.(That is breakfast for us champions up here! No, I don't eat Wheaties.)
For some reason or another, the subject of why us missionaries decided to come on missions has come up quite a few times. This made me think of way back when I was a 12 year old deacon. There was one lesson Brother Humphries was teaching. I can't remember what it was specifically about, but he brought up a cool phrase. He said, "Beat the dragon before you fight the battle." A decision is a lot easier to make if you've already decided what you are going to choose when the chance arises to make that choice or not.(That was a fun sentence to right. Poetic? Not really. It's fun to say it in my head though.) I had known several years before I was 19 that I was going on a mission. One of the most pivotal moments was when I stood on top of the (contiguous) United States. I was up there with my friends and we signed a proclamation to the world saying that we would serve honorable full time missions. It was a very great experience, and I am not doing it justice at all. If you want to hear(read) the full story, you can write me a letter and ask for it!
I have to admit, this is the farthest away I've ever lived from Mountains. They've been practically at my back door my entire life! It's a little ...?weird? not having those mountains surrounding me now. The sky is huge and blue. It's different, but beautiful in it's own way. Sunset is also very cool. With nothing to get in the way, the sun sets are just awesome. The horizon line is huge because there aren't any mountains so the changing color of the sky is very obvious and dramatic. I'm a nature kid(kind of). Don't hate.
Speaking of hating, be careful how you use that word. I've realized just how powerful a word it is. A few missionaries have talked about how bad certain 'things' can be, and it has really stuck in my mind. I've had experiences with some of those 'things' that they talked about and they were not bad at all, but because they had talked about them being bad, I had a prejudice before evening having the experience. Yes, different people think and experience things differently, but they can still leave prejudices in impressionable minds(like those of new missionaries who don't know what to expect).
Lastly, because I am not moving for at least another 6 weeks, I have a new address where you all can send mail to for the time being! The address that you have right now is the address of the mission office. They like mail to be sent there because of transfers and people moving around. That way they can redirect the mail where it needs to go no matter where the missionary is. Well, I am not moving around(except for that 1% chance that something goes awry somewhere). As such, I will give you my direct address so that any mail that is sent between now and the end of September doesn't have to go through that multiple day forwarding process. Mail can be sent directly to the following:
Elder Soren Mann
3145 N Valam Avenue
Meridian, ID 83646

I also have a challenge for 46ers that are reading this.(You know who you are) I am looking for a few addresses, in particular, those of Elder Chandler, Elder Tyree, Bishop Holdaway, Bro McQuarrie, and Bro Rosborough. I offer up this challenge to whoever is willing to take it. "Some of you may die, but it is a sacrifice I am willing to make."(but not really. If anybody dies during this process, please promptly report it to me so that I can be executed for improper use of friendly generosity) You all are awesome! I hope school is being kind to you this year! Thanks for everything you have done and are doing to bring happiness to those people that knowingly and unknowingly need it!

May you all have wonderful days!
PS I've included a picture of me and my smiling face, so that you know I'm alive and happy after my first 6 weeks in the real world! Things are great. I also had my first hair cut yesterday! Hoorah! And my bike made it into the picture! Mine is the blue one!